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  • Written by  Business Day
  • Published in In the News
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Apartheid class action group in US court again

THE Khulumani Support Group would hold pickets in three provinces on Thursday to coincide with the reopening of its long-running lawsuit in the New York District Court, the group's media advocacy co-ordinator, advocate Sipho Mantula, said yesterday.

The group filed a lawsuit in November 2002 in New York against 23 corporations and banks on the basis that they had aided and abetted the apartheid government in gross human rights violations. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 87 people against multinational companies including BP, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Rheinmetall, Shell and Total.

Judge John Sprizzo dismissed the suit in November 2004, saying that forcing companies to pay reparations would hurt foreign investment in SA.

However, Khulumani lodged an appeal with the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled last year that the Alien Tort Claims Act provided jurisdiction for the case to be heard.

The corporations filed a motion in November last year to stay that decision , pending their petition to the US Supreme Court. In May this year, that court ruled that it lacked the necessary quorum of six justices to issue an opinion.

In law, when the Supreme Court lacks a quorum, the lower court ruling is affirmed. The case will return to the District Court on Thursday and, according to Mantula, will set the trial date.

Mantula said the matter included four categories of gross human rights violations, including disappearances, arbitrary and prolonged detentions without trial, assault and injury, and extrajudicial killings.

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